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The Translation of Films, 1900-1950$
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Carol O'Sullivan and Jean-François Cornu

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266434

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266434.001.0001

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The significance of dubbed versions for early sound-film history

The significance of dubbed versions for early sound-film history

(p.191) 11 The significance of dubbed versions for early sound-film history
The Translation of Films, 1900-1950

Jean-François Cornu

British Academy

Dubbing as a film translation technique has been largely taken for granted since its origins. Yet such origins are rarely looked into from historical, technical, and artistic perspectives. The study of early French-dubbed Hollywood and European films has a lot to teach us. This chapter examines aspects of voice-acting, lip synchronisation, dialogue alteration, and sound mixing in nine American, German, and British films. It reveals how the makers of French dubbed versions, in Hollywood and in France, were keen on recreating the soundtrack of foreign films according to their own perception of sound and voice treatment, sometimes disregarding the source material to the point of ‘enriching’ it. This approach has major implications for the reception of these versions, but also for the study of the evolution of sound practices in the early sound period. The historical merits of these versions also have significant archival and exhibition implications.

Keywords:   archival issues, British cinema, film translation, French dubbing, German cinema, Hollywood, lip synchronisation, sound mixing, audiovisual translation history

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